Oso Market + Bar

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Sometimes, the name of the game is simplicity. In this food-obsessed city, I think sometimes the restaurants are over-thought, dishes over-embellished and menus over-complicated. Not the case at the new eastside eatery Oso Market + Bar. It’s a lovely spot serving lunch or dinner that feels like a small bar or lunch counter, and it’s simple in the best way possible.

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I had lunch at Oso last week, and the above picture curried chickpea sandwich was pretty great — simple, warm, made with great house-made ingredients like pickled fennel. They served it with a side house salad that was just simple. Simply dressed, simple greens, and exactly what I needed for a nice workday lunch. The menu does have lots of meaty options too, and the charcuterie looked mighty delicious. It’s certainly not just for veggies.

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Stop into Oso Market for a meal, and browse their selection of oils, wine and other local products. Maybe I’ll see you there for a simple workday lunch!

Oso Market + Bar is located at 726 SE Grand Ave., just next door to Dig a Pony. They’re open from lunch until late every day.

Harlow

Harlow, Portland, Oregon

Can we all just admit for a minute that breakfast in this town has gotten ridiculous? Don’t get me wrong — I love it, and when I’m on vacation in another city, I miss the incredible options we have here. All I’m saying is, we are seriously lucky.

Since we’ve been in love with Harlow’s sister restaurant Prasad (in the Pearl District’s Yoga Pearl building) for quite some time, we wanted to try the one across the river and it has wedged its way into our hearts for those Sunday mornings where we want to take our time over breakfast.

Harlow, Portland, Oregon

Prasad focuses on raw, vegan fare, but at Harlow the focus shifts to more gluten-free food. You can still get raw and vegan stuff though. I’m head over heels for the quinoa pancakes with blueberries, and Eric hasn’t yet stopped ordering the huevos rancheros (pictured below) exclusively.

Harlow, Portland, Oregon

The beverages are also sublime, from fresh juice concoctions that will start your day right to the dreamy Peruvian hot chocolate I enjoyed last weekend, complete with malty maca and melted dark chocolate.

Harlow, Portland, Oregon

Harlow is located at 3632 SE Hawthorne Blvd., right in the heart of that lively district. Go for weekend brunch or make a day of it and take in a bit of the neighborhood.

Bushel & Peck Bakeshop

Bushel & Peck Bakeshop, Portland, Oregon

This time of year makes me want something warm to drink in my hand every hour of every day. Luckily, we live in a town blissfully full of coffee and tea shops, each with their own lovely little arrangements of goodies to go with them.

Bushel & Peck Bakeshop, Portland, Oregon

I love Bushel & Peck Bakeshop becuase it’s close to my office, because they make a bar with pretzels, almonds and caramel that is heaven and because it makes me nostalgic for the nights I’d spend the night at my friend Julie’s house when I was a kid, and her mom would tuck us in and tell us, “I love you a bushel and a peck, a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck.” This spot is also just a great, relaxing place to pull up a chair and unplug for a few minutes.

Bushel & Peck Bakeshop, Portland, Oregon

Bushel & Peck Bakeshop serves Trailhead Roasters coffee, Townshend’s Teas and and assortment of lovely specials for breakfast and lunch, or treats anytime. Pick a chair at the long farm table, grab a newspaper and prepare for a few minutes of hot-beverage zen.

Bushel & Peck Bakeshop, Portland, Oregon

Bushel & Peck Bakeshop is located at 3907 NE MLK Jr. Blvd. in NE Portland. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll go there now and get one of those caramel pretzel almond bars. Trust me.

Fireside

Fireside Restaurant, Portland, Oregon

Have you ever tried to describe Portland cuisine to people who haven’t been here? Usually I end up saying things like, “Lots of pork belly,” “New American” or “Comfort food.” It’s hard to define sometimes, the places that we love here in Portland who aren’t serving a style of food, per se, but food that we like. It has fresh ingredients, it’s prepared with care and we often get to enjoy it in well-designed, cozy spaces with people we care about. We are lucky to live here, indeed.

Fireside Restaurant, Portland, Oregon

I was introduced to Fireside (in what used to the the Music Millenium building on NW 23rd) by some clients of mine. I had a bowl of their leek and potato soup, and I came back three days later for lunch because I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Fireside does that Portland thing well — comforting, well-prepared food from stellar ingredients, served in a cozy space. The people watching is good, the menu selections are delicious and varied and I’ll be back for more very soon.

Fireside Restaurant, Portland, Oregon

Fireside is at 801 NW 23rd Ave. Go for lunch, happy hour or dinner and for the love — have some of the daily soup.

Cedo’s Falafel & Gyros

Cedo's Falafel & Gyros, Portland, Oregon

I love a falafel — I loved falafel before people knew what the heck falafel was. But I guess those are the street-cred perks of being a young vegetarian. My friend Alice introduced me to Cedo’s this year and it’s a favorite spot now. It’s simple, inexpensive and most of all, delicious.

Cedo's Falafel & Gyros, Portland, Oregon

At Cedo’s, I highly recommend the falafel sandwich or the mixed platter, which gives you options — falafel balls, hummus, baba ganouge etc. If you’re into meat, I hear the gyro’s good too. I love this place for lunch because it’s simple and easy.

Cedo's Falafel & Gyros, Portland, Oregon

Cedo’s Falafel & Gyros is located at 3901 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Find them on Yelp.

a n d Cafe

and Cafe, Portland, Oregon

My family all lives nearby, and we get together a lot. There are 11 of us now (just from my immediate family of my sisters and parents) and between us, we have a hilarious grouping of food allergies, intolerances and preferences. We’re also always in flux.

For awhile, one of my sisters was paleo while we were vegan and my other sister’s family was gluten-free and dairy-free (except for one kid). By the next gathering, it was plant-based for a few of us, flexitarian for others. My parents then went vegan for awhile but are notoriously flexible. But recently, we’ve had my mom stumped. She has resorted to telling us all to bring our own dinner when we come over. It’s just too much to keep track of.

and Cafe, Portland, Oregon

I’m pretty amazed in Portland at how many options we have. I don’t see a menu very often that doesn’t include something for the vegan/vegetarian/gluten-free/paleo/what have you among us. And I think that’s a part of what makes Portland’s restaurants so cool and enjoyable and unique.

We ended up on a recent Saturday morning at the a n d Cafe on E. Burnside. Tons of options, including a special hash with vegan gravy and herbed tofu mixed with brussels sprouts.

and Cafe, Portland, Oregon

a n d Cafe is located at 5420 E. Burnside. They make breakfast and lunch, the service is snappy and friendly and they have lots of options for those of you with, let’s say, needs.

Boke Bowl

Boke Bowl, SE Portland, Oregon

I’m still totally unsure as to why they’d need to do this, but when I was in elementary school, they marketed school lunch to us with “cool” magnets featuring brightly colored flamingos and slogans like “It’s cool to eat at school!”

They didn’t have to sell me — most of the time, my mom didn’t let us eat hot lunch at school because it wasn’t very healthy. Instead, she’d pack up fresh fruit and veggies alongside sandwiches and skim milk for us. But on the rare occasion that we got to buy lunch at school, it was awesome — especially on chicken fried steak day. I find it weird that I’m an adult who has been vegetarian most of my life now, but I could not get enough chicken fried steak back in elementary school. Pair it with tater tots and over-boiled grayish green beans and you’ve got a classic early 90s school lunch.

Boke Bowl, SE Portland, Oregon

Absolutely nothing about Boke Bowl resembles school lunch, except for the long table running the length of the restaurant. Something about eating in the company of strangers takes me back to my cafeteria days. The food here is far more complex and wonderful than all that business. My favorites at Boke Bowl are the vegan rice bowl and the caramelized fennel ramen (try a side of rice tots!) Most days, this is exactly what I want for a complex and yummy lunch.

Boke Bowl, SE Portland, Oregon

Boke Bowl is at 1028 SE Water Ave. in SE Portland’s industrial district, just a short walk from the waterfront and Eastbank Esplanade. Stand in line — it’s worth it.

Lovejoy Bakers

Lovejoy Bakers, Portland, Oregon

We hopped on a plane and we went to Las Vegas — five women who had just met a handful of times and wanted to learn more at a photography conference. We had our profession in common, but otherwise we were practically strangers. But something about a hotel suite, a batch of fun parties and exploring the conference together bonded us, and we decided to keep in touch after we arrived back home in Portland.

Annie, Christy, Deyla, Melissa and I met up a few weeks after that conference for coffee and shop talk at Lovejoy Bakers. We were new friends, we were still discovering things about each other and we talked mostly about business as we got to know certain personal details about one another.

Just a few weeks ago, as I sat and had lunch with a couple of these girls, it hit me — this place saw the birth of a friendship. It morphed from the five of us comparing notes about photography into a much deeper connection. When Melissa, and then Christy, announced that they were expecting babies, we hugged and celebrated. Now those babies are here, and when we meet together, we hold them and pass them around.

I’m so grateful for my friends, but I’m also grateful for the place that provided the morning coffees, sandwiches and treats that got the ball rolling.

Lovejoy Bakers, Portland, Oregon

Lovejoy Bakers, a bustling spot in the Pearl District, is encased almost entirely in glass and overlooks the Portland Streetcar. The custom light fixtures, fashioned by local Pigeontoe Ceramics, add a touch of whimsy to the modern space. Snag a pillowy spot by the window and trust me, you’ll never want to leave.

My personal favorite is the smashed chickpea sandwich, with fennel sliced super-thin and a lemony substance inside that’s pure magic. It’s vegan, and they’ll swap out the non-vegan potato salad for you gladly, but usually I just eat it, because as far as potato salads go, it’s delicious.

Lovejoy Bakers, Portland, Oregon

Lovejoy Bakers, NW 10th & Lovejoy in the Pearl District. Near the foot of the Broadway Bridge.

Kenny & Zuke’s Bagelworks

Kenny & Zuke's Bagelworks, Portland, Oregon

Two years ago, I volunteered with a local organization that brought empowering outdoor spots experiences to at-risk teenage girls. It was tremendously fun, as we’d learn to snowshoe and rock climb and mountain bike together. It hardly felt like volunteering, frankly.

One weekend, we packed up two buses full of teenagers and volunteer women and we headed over the hills to Central Oregon, where we spent two days learning to rock climb at Oregon’s gorgeous Smith Rock State Park. It couldn’t have been more perfect — our guides were earthy chicks who knew what they were doing and encouraged all of us as we scrambled up the huge hunks of rock. We all left the rock that day feeling great about ourselves because we’d accomplished something. It was easy to see the way this confidence boost was needed in some of the girls. Beyond tired, we drove the buses back to our camping spot and set up camp before someone lit a campfire and we settled down to prepare s’mores.

The type of adult woman who volunteered with this group was mostly affluent, educated, athletic and adventurous, and certainly had the best of intentions. And yet, somehow a woman was put in charge of buying chocolate for the s’mores and she thought she’d get fancy. She purchased expensive bars of artisan chocolate with different additives and cacao percentages. The problem was, no one knew that because it was pitch black outside as we prepared our s’mores. So the girls broke off chunks of this fancy artisan chocolate, and then around the fire, they all made weird faces as they tried to figure out what had gotten into our s’mores. Most of them had never tasted 88% cacao, and if you have, you know it’s no Hershey’s.

No one said anything at the time, but on our way home we passed out a survey to the girls and every single one mentioned the s’mores. “Those s’mores were nasty,” one said. Another: “Why didn’t those s’mores have normal chocolate in them?”

Kenny & Zuke's Bagelworks, Portland, Oregon

Sometimes it’s best to stick with a classic. At Kenny & Zuke’s Bagelworks, they have taken the classic, done it really well and made a fun neighborhood eatery at the same time. They offer some of the favorites from the original downtown deli (like the reuben and sliders), but mostly they focus on excellent fresh bagels. Try the garlic with chive cream cheese and you’ll be a happy camper, minus the weird s’mores.

Kenny & Zuke's Bagelworks, Portland, Oregon

Kenny & Zuke’s Bagelworks is one of three Kenny & Zuke’s locations. It’s the more casual neighborhood joint that’s all about the bagels. Located at 2376 NW Thurman St. The other locations are in the West End district and on N. Williams Ave.